The reaction between CO2 and primary and secondary alkanolamines (DEA and DIPA) has been studied both in aqueous and non-aqueous solutions (ethanol and n-butanol) at various temperatures. Reaction kinetics have been established by chemically enhanced mass transfer of CO2 into the various solutions. The experiments were performed in a stirred vessel operated with a horizontal interface which appeared to the eye to be completely smooth. The reaction can be described with an earlier proposed zwitterion-mechanism. Literature data on the reaction rates can be correlated fairly well with this mechanism. As all amines react with CO2 in a reversible way, and the mass transfer models used for the interpretation of the experimental data neglect this reversibility and take only the forward reaction rate into account, the influence of the reversibility is studied. With the aid of numerical mass transfer models the experimental method with its underlying assumptions have been verified and the applicability and the limits of this method were determined. Special attention has been paid to the influence of small amounts of impurities (amines) on the measured mass transfer rates. A Brønsted relationship exists between the second-order rate constant, k2, for the formation of the zwitterion and the acid dissociation constant of the alkanolamine.
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